- Enterprise looks beyond Intel too, finding decent performance and huge power savings. It's all about the bottom line, and Intel should be scared.
- Facebook faces a day of tougher questions, with lawmakers frustrated by Zuckerberg's vague answers. The big question from here is will anything happen?
CloudFlare leads the ARM transition
A little-covered story circulated about a week ago that I missed in the mess left by Facebook's wake; CloudFlare, one of the world's largest CDN providers, is dropping Intel too.
This is significant not only because of CloudFlare's scale — it drives about 10 percent of internet traffic — but because of the timing along with the rumor that Apple is looking to move beyond Intel's processors as well.
CloudFlare's CEO is not mincing words about why they're shifting:
“We think we're now at a point where we can go one hundred percent to ARM. In our analysis, we found that even if Intel gave us the chips for free, it would still make sense to switch to ARM, because the power efficiency is so much better.”
What I'm curious about, given a former life as a server administrator, is how truly dramatic that power efficiency is — the savings must be enormous to make it worth going through the hassle of adapting applications to run on ARM, let alone adapting tooling and processes.
Running a datacenter is expensive, and power bills are constantly on operator's minds. If ARM processors were able to drop the bill by even 10 percent, it suddenly becomes a real question of whether the math adds up to invest in switching across your own software — because the operating systems are already there.
CloudFlare shared in 2017 statistics about performance across Intel vs ARM at an early stage in its exploration, and it's quite astounding how well it competes across the board: the ARM processors were able to use 50 percent less energy to perform similarly.
I'll reserve my judgement until we hear more about this, but in my opinion Intel faces one of its largest threats since the Pentium 4 era, where it was in a bitter fight with AMD for domination and huge performance gains as multi-core processors landed.
A shift in the server world means competition for the first time in almost a decade, and enterprise workloads are particularly valuable. Intel, meanwhile, is getting ready to "compete" by slapping lawsuits on those who attempt to use emulation techniques to make transitioning away more difficult.
If all of this happens, it might impact the public cloud in an enormous way. Were Amazon, DigitalOcean or Google to use ARM and reduce their own costs, on-demand cloud servers might get even cheaper than the ridiculously-low prices we're used to now — and that's what may ultimately drive the entire movement.
Facebook faces tougher questioning
On day two of Zuckerberg's appearance to testify, Facebook faced harder questions for the first time: these lawmakers were prepared.
In his appearance yesterday, Zuckerberg was grilled, interrupted and berated for not directly answering questions — and he grew visibly frustrated as it went on. One regulator, when floating the idea of regulating all social media, said that “I think it is time to ask whether Facebook may have moved too fast and broken too many things.”
Most of this hearing focused on Facebook not being trustworthy enough to deal with the vast data collected on users, and understanding exactly what the company stored on people.
"Shadow profiles" which is data collected on people who aren't even users was raised, and Zuckerberg was unable to give a straight answer on what that looks like, or why it's fair to collect this data when users haven't agreed to have it collected in the first place.
This data is collected from a variety of places, such as the Facebook tracking scripts — the "tracking pixel" — that websites voluntarily embed in order to get Facebook ad data and analytics on their own usage. Senators took issue with the assertion that to control this, you must be a Facebook user, and even then it's unclear how much control users have.
Senators really wanted to define "what exactly is Facebook" repeatedly yesterday, because they struggled to understand which bucket to even put it in — publisher, utility or even telecommunications company. If it were to be classified as the latter, it would require oversight from the FTC.
What's unclear is what happens from here. Facebook must answer a number of questions it deflected today, but what's unclear is if this was all for show or whether or not lawmakers will actually take action. It seems unlikely, but if the current scandal continues to grow, they may be pushed into action by consumer outrage.
New Gmail design inbound in "a few weeks"
Apple reportedly cuts orders for HomePod
Uber plans to integrate bikes, public transport and more into app
This is a huge move to try and avoid being just a commodity inside other apps, like Google Maps. Instead, Uber wants you to think of it as the place to go for "transport" making this a smart move — and welcome competition against the few choices we currently have.